Voodeux: The Paranormal

Credit Voodeux with establishing a new genre—“zombie techno”—on its hour-long The Paranormal. The brainchild (ghoulish spawn might be more like it) of Tanner Ross and James Watts (aka KiloWatts), Voodeux specializes in tracks grounded in funky minimal house and techno rhythms and overlaid with all manner of creepy and blood-curdling sounds. The album follows last year's The Curse EP whose release prompted Mothership pilot Claude VonStroke to request a full-length album of similar spirit. It's a natural marriage for Ross, an avowed horror film aficionado, and Watts, whose previous output (five full albums to date on labels such as Artificial Music Machine, Harmonious Discord, Thoughtless Music, and his own KilloWatts Music) demonstrates his command of multiple genres and piano proficiency (the two met six years online at a website devoted to music synths and production).

The cheeky release sets the scene with “The End,” a macabre collage of slo-mo beats and slasher film noises, and the group's jazzier side gets a workout in “The Third Floor” but otherwise the album's chock-full of six-minute techno bangers all decked out in Halloween gear. “Just a Spoonful” invades the club with ghostly tech-house where corpses drag their decaying bodies across the dance floor, “Enter the Voo” stays the course with a slithering bass line and snappy Latinized groove while screams echo overhead, and “Bones” rattles and hums with wild abandon. The penultimate cut, “Skeleton Key,” might be the best thing here, so powerful is its rolling shuffle-house pulse and dizzying synth smears, though the also-strong closer “Deadend Motel” grooves mightily too. Much of The Paranormal's material is similar in design to the sample-heavy minimal house of foundsound artists (Someone Else, Miskate, Fusiphorm, et al.) with the title cut's marriage of croaking voice fragments, keyboard sprinkles, and snappy beats especially reminiscent of the label's sound. No one should be too surprised if Voodeux's called upon for the soundtrack to George Romero's next zombie movie.

July 2009